Two of the most decorated clubs in European history mix it up on Saturday in Wales, when Juventus and Real Madrid will play in their combined 24th UCL Final.
It’s a “rematch” of the 1998 final, though the clubs have tangled in two of the past four tournaments (each won one). The match winner of that 1-0 Real victory? Predrag Mijatović.
Juve has been to four UCL finals since taking down Ajax in 1996, and The Old Lady has lost every one. Real last lost a final in 1981 (Liverpool), and has gone in the opposite direction with six of its 11 titles coming in the last 36 years.
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Will it be seven of 12?
We broke down three key battles of the match on Thursday, so let’s focus on the possible status statements for each side.
— In an era with plenty of powerful sides with massive wallets, Real could assert itself as a bonafide dynasty. While the Spanish giants haven’t been La Liga champions each year — they did win this year’s crown — they could claim their third title in four years. It’s not unprecedented in recent years, as Barcelona, AC Milan, and a previous iteration of Real have achieved long runs of championship results. Yet it’s a major statement of big match fortitude.
— Juve has lost more UCL finals than anyone in history, and has a chance to make a statement for Serie A. The Italian top flight hasn’t seen a UCL winner since AC Milan in 2007, and would relish its dominant team asserting power over La Liga.
— There is also the personal legacy of Cristiano Ronaldo. Few are going to think his legendary status is tarnished by a loss in Cardiff, but this is a man who’s only UCL loss came in 2009 when he was 24. He hasn’t lost a final at Real, and at most clubs would silence any doubters with a win. Alas, those Real fans sure love to whistle.
Prediction: These sides haven’t had a zero on either side of the scoreboard over their last four meetings, and that won’t stop. We’re thinking this could be an instant classic, 3-2 in extra time. Who gets the winner? Would you believe longtime Real nemesis Dani Alves?